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Archive For December, 2005

GamesRadar, GameVideos, GameEverything...

December 27, 2005 7:21 PM | Simon Carless

radarvideos.jpg As we drift aimlessly but happily into the New Year, word reaches GameSetWatch of a couple of major new game websites launching over the next few weeks.

Firstly, Future Publishing's U.S. division, which runs Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer, and PSM in the magazine field, but has thus far been relatively tardy getting into the U.S. consumer game website business, is re-launching existing MSN UK-partnered site GamesRadar in early January with a newly hired U.S. staff, plus existing UK journos. As the press release explains, "GamesRadar will be the first international games information destination on the Web and marks another major step forward in Future’s global online expansion plan." As a major competitor to GameSpot, IGN, and Ziff's 1UP, should be interesting to see how Future steps up.

Secondly, recent print ads and a new page on Ziff Davis' website reveals the forthcoming arrival of GameVideos.com, a new online property to run alongside 1UP.com and the newly acquired GameTab.com and FileFront.com. According to the helpful marketing information, the new Ziff property is: "The only site dedicated to the entire gamut of gaming video clips, GameVideos.com is the one-stop resource for game trailers, current and classic ads, tournaments, news footage, interviews, and humor." Chances are the fan favorite 1UP Show videocast will transition/mirror over there when the site launches in the near future.

Amped 3 - Slept-On, Or Fortuitously Ignored?

December 27, 2005 1:37 PM | Simon Carless

amped-3.jpg Probably one of the least remarked-upon Xbox 360 launch titles has been 2K/Indie Built's Amped 3, the latest in the former Microsoft franchise acquired by Take-Two when it bought Indie Built back in late 2004. The snowboarding action itself, according to many reviewers, is relatively pedestrian.

However, the official Amped 3 site gives a hint as to the title's 'unique' differentiator, which isn't even shown in any of the official screenshots - insanely goofy/crazed GUI and cut-scene presentation, as showcased in this WMV trailer. The ever-lyrical Tom Bramwell at Eurogamer describes it best: "Amped 3's presentation is basically a diabolical fusion of Music Television and hallucinogenic interpretations of surfer culture. Think of how Tony Hawk's Underground suddenly decided it wanted to be Jackass, and multiply that by stop-motion cut-scene skits with plastic toys, "Hotties of Amped 3" load-screen graphics, self-referential Strong Bad-inspired "cut-scenes are rubbish" interludes and six other mountains of superfluity..."

So... not so good? Well, the GameSpy folks vote for "nauseating bastardization", but the TeamXbox guys actually kinda like it, and the GameSetWatch editors were initially intrigued, like crows and shiny metal objects. Overall - hey, at least it's different?

Cedric And The Revolution

December 27, 2005 7:04 AM | Simon Carless

cedric.jpg The Origami Hero website has just released the free PC adventure title Cedric And The Revolution, and the fine TIGSource folks explain it thusly: "An old school adventure in the style of classic Lucasarts titles, you play the role of the titular character in his quest to gather enough people for a peaceful demonstration... Expect a well-written story, witty dialogues and memorable characters brought vividly to life by his distinct art style."

It looks like Cedric And The Revolution is made with Adventure Game Studio, an excellent PC adventure game creation tool, and it's also worth noting that Origami Hero proprietor and creator Bernie also made oldschool SNES/Genesis style platformer A Game With A Kitty, which is definitely worth perusal as well.

Raiden Plus Campbell Equals Love

December 27, 2005 1:15 AM | Simon Carless

raiden3.jpg Veteran UK game journalist Stuart Campbell has nominated his game of the year, and it's not Shadow Of The Colossus, or even Psychonauts, but rather the 2D PlayStation 2 shoot-em-up Raiden 3, which is out in Europe early in 2006 (but unlikely to be seen on U.S. shores, thanks to SCEA's draconian standards policies).

Campbell explains, very precisely, why the game stands out: "Raiden isn't like most modern shmups. There's no "bullet hell" here, no screens full of geometric snowstorms of enemy fire through which you have to pilot a ship with a "hit box" that's actually only one pixel square. Unlike the baddies of Giga Wing or Mars Matrix or Espgaluda, enemies in Raiden games don't just unleash a monstrous barrage of shots and hope vaguely that you blunder into one. These guys might only fire a couple of bullets, but they fire them right at you, with an assassin's precision and a sniper's economy. And it's that smart, aware opposition that sets Raiden apart from pretty much every other shooting game on the market." Oh, and there's a bonus Campbell shmup review posted since then, of the equally interesting (but not European-bound) Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou from Cave.

Making A PBS For Serious Games?

December 26, 2005 7:21 PM | Simon Carless

pbs.gif The Christian Science Monitor's Dec. 22 edition has an in-depth article on the 'serious game' phenomenon, discussing games you may already know, such as the UN's Food Force and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict's A Force More Powerful, "in which players use peaceful means to unseat a dictator in 10 fictitious scenarios."

But a particularly interesting thought comes from the Woodrow Wilson Center's David Rejeski, who apparently "...advocates the establishment of a "Corporation for Public Gaming" that would stimulate the development of serious games the way the Corporation for Public Broadcasting developed noncommercial TV." A PBS style organization for games? We can see the Morgan Webb-presented pledge drives now!

Rumble Roses Goes Pop

December 26, 2005 1:40 PM | Simon Carless

rumble.jpg We've previously discussed Konami's habit of inserting its Rumble Roses wrestling glamor girls into other Japanese video game titles, such as Metal Gear Ac!d 2.

Well, Rid over at Majoria's News has spotted another Rumble Roses crossover, this time with cute Bemani rhythm game Pop 'N Music 13, which is special guest featuring female wrestler Reiko Hinomoto of Rumble Roses fame.

The Japan-only Pop 'N Music series, though it's sometimes hilariously difficult, is arguably the female and kid-friendly version of the Bemani series, which also includes the excellent Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution games. Therefore, it's interesting that such a sexed-up character would get cartoonized for it - still, ours not to reason why?

Steam Gets Positively Archaeological

December 26, 2005 8:22 AM | Simon Carless

steam.jpg Valve's Steam 'content delivery service' for PC, purveyor of not only Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source, but a multitude of forthcoming independently developed titles, has revealed some startling statistics about its usage this year.

Specifically: "Steam has delivered approximately 10 million gigabytes of data since the first of the year. You could fill 125,000 80 GB hard drives with this data to make a line over 11 miles long. Not that you would want to, but the visual helps... There have been a total of 50 billion player minutes in our multiplayer games since the start of the year. If a single person sat down to play on their own, it would take 2.28 million years to accomplish this. This is assuming that you're not planning on sleeping during this 2 million year stretch." Whoa. (via ShackNews.) Oh, and the handy Steam Review points out that there's a demo of Rag Doll Kung Fu available for Steam download, like, right now. I know kung fu?

'When Import Stores Ruled The Earth'

December 26, 2005 2:14 AM | Simon Carless

bc.jpg Brit nrrrd game site NTSC-uk has a fun new article up charting the decline of the UK video game import store. As the intro claims: "See I grew up, like many of you, on a diet of ‘stunning oak effect’ Ataris, Fire Ants, Dizzy Eggs, Hadoouuukkenns and vomit-coloured carpet at the local Amusements. Yet it was only the other day; after seeing hanging board upon hanging board of ‘Reserve your Xbox 360 for only £900 the deeds to your house and your immortal soul’, a horrid realisation bore into my guts and clawed up into my brain. Import Stores in the UK are dead."

A little more whine with your cheese? Well: "The store (while it should be applauded for its selection of games) was as sterile as a fresh hypodermic, and twice as painful. Japanese titles, packed tidily into tight white coffins with price tags that smirked at your wallet and winked at your bank manager stained the walls." We can only hazard a guess as to who he's referring to, but it's entertaining, in any case. Any UK natives care to comment on whether import gaming retail has, to reference a parrot sketch, 'run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible'?

GoldenEye Source Predicts A Riot

December 25, 2005 8:02 PM | Simon Carless

goldeneye.jpg In the hours leading up to Xmas, the mod team unofficially adapting Rare's classic N64 FPS to the Half-Life 2 engine announced the release of the GoldenEye Source alpha version, reducing their bandwidth-ravaged homepage to some simple download links.

However, there are plenty of screenshots of the mod over at ModDB, and the creators of the mod comment that their main aim was "...keeping the original feel for the game that we all know and love... [while] adding new and fun game play features, along with new maps and weapons that will keep the game feeling new." Maybe EA should just bite the bullet and ask Nintendo, Rare, Valve, and the modders nicely to release this, since their recent Bond games still aren't lighting anyone's fire?

GameFly Gets Fly For Xmas

December 25, 2005 2:31 PM | Simon Carless

druaga.jpg Happy Xmas to all GameSetWatch readers! Also, if you're in the U.S. and enjoy, uhm, cheap games, then video game rental service GameFly is having a pretty decent Christmas sale on previously rented games, with $3 off all games over $12.99 and free shipping in the States.

Apparently, GameFly takes good care of its boxes/instructions (unlike, say, the shredded monstrosities you get at your local Blockbuster), and there are plenty of niche and otherwise less obvious games at decent prices - your delighted GameSetWatch editor just picked up Nightmare of Druaga, Flipnic, Killer 7, Mega Man Anniversary Collection, Capcom Fighting Evolution and Sprung for $70, including California tax. Definitely worth checking out.

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